Equal Parts Nod To The Past And Look To The Future
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, July 1 with a program that includes NASA officials discussing the historic spaceport and the dynamic transformation underway to support the next generation of space exploration.
Beginning the program at 1400 EDT Sunday is the panel discussion, "Kennedy Space Center: Past, Present and Future," at the Astronaut Encounter Theater. The select NASA panel is scheduled to include Carol Scott of the Program Control and Integration Office within the Commercial Crew Program, and Stu McClung of the Orion Crew/Service Module Office. Scott will discuss how the Commercial Crew Program is facilitating commercial vehicle development and certification to enable the safe transportation of NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations. McClung will talk about the Orion spacecraft being developed to carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. On July 2, NASA is marking the arrival at Kennedy Space Center of the first space-bound Orion spacecraft.
At 1500 Sunday at the visitor complex's NASA Central area, the 65-member Orlando Concert Band will present a musical salute to Kennedy Space Center with patriotic music and marches. Associate Music Director Aaron Lefkowitz will lead the band in such selections as "Armed Forces Salute," "Apollo 13," "America the Beautiful," and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
Completing the program is Scott Bolton, principal investigator for NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, who will take visitors on a visual journey of recent scientific discoveries made as a result of exploration of the solar system. The presentation begins at 1630 at Exploration Space.
"This is a great occasion for everyone who loves John F. Kennedy Space Center," said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the visitor complex. "For 50 years, Kennedy has been the gateway to space, carrying astronauts into space aboard rockets and space shuttles, launching space exploration devices and constructing the International Space Station. "We're celebrating the many historic achievements of the space program over the last 50 years – which visitors can experience here like nowhere else – plus the exciting things going on today to prepare Kennedy Space Center for commercial space flight and the Orion deep-space program," he said.
On July 1, 1962, the space center was officially acknowledged as an operating spaceflight center under the name Launch Operations Center. The name was later changed to John F. Kennedy Space Center in honor of the president and his vision of Americans visiting the moon. Earlier this year, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex celebrated another milestone in space history with the 50th anniversary of Americans in Orbit. On February 20, 1962, launching aboard a Mercury-Atlas rocket in the Freedom 7 capsule, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn circled the Earth three times, followed by a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex currently have two rare tour opportunities. For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing guests inside the Launch Control Center – where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches for the space shuttle and Apollo programs, and inside the 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) (pictured), the massive building where the Apollo Saturn V rockets and space shuttles were assembled.
The 50th anniversary programming is complimentary to guests with paid admission.